Last week, Indiana Right to Life Victory Fund challenged Indiana's prohibition on corporate contributions to political action committees (“PACs”) for independent expenditures.
Indiana currently allows a corporation to contribute to a PAC, but only if the contribution (1) does not exceed the contribution limits and (2) is designated for disbursement to a specific candidate or committee. Given that independent expenditures are expenditures made completely independent and separate from a candidate, contributions for them cannot be designated, nor disbursed, to a candidate. So the relevant code sections act as a complete prohibition against contributions from corporations to PACs for independent expenditures.
The Seventh Circuit and Supreme Court have made clear that contribution limits are only constitutional if they target quid pro quo corruption (which refers to dollars for political favors) or its appearance. Contribution limits serving any other purpose are unconstitutional. But courts have gone a step further, making clear that independent expenditures do not create a threat of quid pro quo corruption or its appearance. Accordingly, prohibitions on contributions for independent expenditures are unconstitutional.
“Our Constitution has made clear that political speech is protected and that groups like Indiana Right to Life Victory Fund have a right to have their voices heard,” says lead counsel James Bopp, Jr. “Allowing groups like Indiana Right to Life Victory Fund to raise funds for independent expenditures is very important to the pro-life movement. It will allow Indiana Right to Life Victory Fund to further advance the movement by helping get pro-life leaders in office, which will in turn help pro-life legislation be enacted and protected in Indiana.”
Mike Fichter, Indiana Right to Life President and CEO, states, “Independent expenditures are a very important means for Indiana Right to Life to engage in the political process. These will become even more important in the wake of next summer's Supreme Court ruling on Mississippi's abortion law, which we hope will open greater opportunities to protect life.”